These days my life is a lot like the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I mill about and wonder who among the crowd is an alien. Replace “alien” with “Trump supporter” and you’ve nailed my reality.
They live among us. They cut in front of us in supermarket checkout lines. They blow through stop signs. They run us off the road when we’re trying to merge on interstate highways. My worst nightmare is not so much careening down a steep embankment to an untimely death but that a Trump-Pence bumper sticker will be the last thing I see.
But who’s who is getting harder and harder to discern. The lawn signs are long since gone. Yes, I have an above average visual and spatial memory, but I also have a knack for willful amnesia as I drive through our development. Yet for sheer ease of self-delusion nothing beats venturing outside my neighborhood, where ignorance is bliss for both them and me.
I have a strict “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy I apply to the dozens of people I interact with every week. I want to believe my carpenter is one of the few Ford F-150 owners with a shotgun and a Bloodhound who’s read Paul Krugman’s essays on the benefits of free trade. I want to believe the aging boomer bar owner on 11th Street has an all white crowd every time I’m in there because they happen to be rare metrosexual fans of bratwurst and Coors on tap.
I want to believe my daughter’s former high school history teacher, who told the class FDR represented the beginning of the end of an America that could stand on its own two feet, is probably some sort of thoughtful libertarian. The more I keep these people at arm’s length, the easier my self-delusions are to maintain.
But then I find out the drummer in the cover band I play in pulled the lever for the Big T. Because, I convince myself, Trump will promote marriage and religion, which means more weddings and bar mitzvahs to play. And then I learn the accountant who does my taxes went over to the dark side. Because I guess once Trump simplifies the tax code life will get easier. Plus my accountant really hates towelheads.
Still, I will continue to associate with these people, because let’s face it—our relationships are sufficiently shallow and my ability to rationalize on behalf of others is outstanding. So long as I can limit my bloviating to the weather, professional wrestling, the NFL, and radial tires, we’re all good.
For some innocent folks, however, life is trickier. Some perfectly sane people are married to Trumpsters. An old friend of mine who supported Bernie woke up one morning and realized he was sleeping with a devotee of the orange comb over. His wife of a quarter century had dabbled with trickle-down economics and border panic politics over the years, and suddenly it took a turn for the worse. A soccer mom now had the lead in Annie Get Your Gun.
These things happen. I feel for my friend. Personally, I could never hit that. God bless, he’s doing the best he can. At one time, swigging a half bottle of Jim Beam was anesthesia for halitosis and thunder thighs. Now it’s inoculation for a Breitbart subscription.
And this is my main problem with Donald Trump. Sure, the forthcoming financial collapse, impending nuclear war, and lurking race riots worry me. But the sexual balkanization is unforgivable.
It didn’t used to be this way. My two relatively serious girlfriends before my wife were both from Republican families. It was no big deal. If anything, their mild political repression was easily and happily relieved with a little bedroom freakishness. To be truthful, I was never certain whether they liked me for me or for how my diatribes on decriminalizing opiates and normalizing relations with Cuba pissed off their Chamber of Commerce fathers, but I can’t say it really mattered that much. We were all Americans, and both of these women eventually hooked up with Americans who owned a chain of restaurants.
So what’s my problem? My wife of almost three decades is a kind, brilliant, attractive woman who thinks Donald J. Trump is Satan. The problem is my two grown daughters. While they also tend to agree that the President of the United States was the bassinet dweller in Rosemary’s Baby, they get to pick significant others of their own, and as I have stated before and now regret on a semantic technicality, I am pro-choice.
Should either of them bring home a Trump supporter, my options are limited. I can stop the tuition payments, but that seems draconian and likely to produce an engagement for spite. I can bide my time and hope that like most relationships it becomes mismanaged, overleveraged, and files for bankruptcy. But what if it doesn’t?
That’s why I’ve prepared “the speech.” Not just any speech about the Golden Rule or taking driving safety classes to knock a couple of DUI points off their license. This is the last gasp, last resort pathetic plea from a desperate father about to watch eight centuries of liberal intellectual tradition, Judaic scholarship, and sociopath-free DNA go down the toilet.
Yes, girls, this is my one coupon and I’m cashing it in. I’m aware of what I’ve been telling you your whole lives. We’re fair and tolerant in this family. I don’t care if he—or she—is white, black, Latino, Asian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or atheist. I don’t care if he’s done hard time. I don’t care if he’s done soft time. I don’t care if he’s an unemployed meth addict. I don’t care if he’s an employed meth addict. I don’t care if he’s taken an oath of omertà. Even some light terrorism—say blowing up a couple of mailboxes where there were no innocent bystanders—is on the table if this young offender is willing to seek professional help.
But your dear old dad has worked his butt off these past twenty-something years and just can’t have those little Trumpy babies crawling around the den floor tweeting out about how their upper central incisors are coming in before all the other babies’ and are easily the straightest ever. You have to draw the line somewhere.
Rich Herschlag is well into his third decade as an author, consulting engineer, husband and father and is very tired.